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Trauma Recovery – The Silver Lining in a very Dark Cloud

Recently, widespread media attention has been focused on a variety people in positions of power and trust, and who have abused that position in the form of sexual assault/s. In 2014 Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville and Robert Hughes (‘Hey Dad’) have all been accused of indecent assault on minors. Without wishing to delve into or focus upon the specifics of these cases, South Pacific Private wonders if there might be a silver lining in the very dark cloud surrounding the stories and histories on trial.

To what do we refer?

As a result of this publicity South Pacific Private has noticed an increase in the numbers of enquiries coming from people who have had issues of sexual abuse and have often carried these tragic secrets within their being for many years. They have experienced years filled with pain, grief, guilt and shame. And yet, they are talking. They are picking up the phone and taking the very first tentative step towards their recovery from this shame, this pain and this grief.

This pattern was supported by a recent news story on The ABC where the state of Victoria reported a spike in child sex abuse offences and credited this spike to the volume of victims coming forward. A further story in The Age commented on the heightened opportunity to respond. It stated that the positive of the seemingly climbing statistics is that the more aware we become about the offending, the more that can be done to stop it and the better educated we are about children who might be at risk.

Childhood sexual abuse is shockingly common. It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and between 1 in 7 and 1 in 12 boys are victims of sexual abuse. (James, 2000.)²

Research has shown that people who seek out counselling or professional support have a chance to move forward. Therapists can provide coping mechanisms and techniques to move on as a survivor and no longer as a victim. The way of recovery from traumatic events is to speak the unspoken. Recovery means sharing with a therapist or suitable person what actually happened, and to no longer keep the secrets that have been locked away.

Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse can develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to protect themselves from this trauma and at South Pacific Private we see opportunities to re-address this fragmented developmental process and to begin to heal. South Pacific Private psycho-therapists also know that, if not owned, the ‘unspoken’ has a habit of leaking out and affecting another generation.

Changing the family Legacy from one of disconnection and pain to one of re connection, honesty and openness are some of the most valuable outcomes many of our patients learn as they complete their time in treatment. The more this subject of abuse is discussed in a healthy and productive manner, the more the survivors of sexual abuse can arrive at a place of compassion for themselves. They are able to let go of the feelings of worthlessness or feelings that somehow it was their fault. They begin to understand that the shame they feel was actually the shame that should be felt by the perpetrator.

Adult survivors of sexual abuse can be affected by a number of feelings and these feelings can impact the following including (but are not restricted to); a sense of mourning, suicidal ideation, anger or rage, sexuality, relational and interpersonal difficulties, low self-esteem, self-harming, eating difficulties and substance abuse.

Sometimes the hardest thing is asking for help. South Pacific Private has hope that the landscape is changing and that more victims are empowered to take that tentative first step towards their recovery. At South Pacific Private we know that it’s ‘OK’ to not be ‘OK’. In our clinical setting we see daily the power of talking and the potential that talking has to heal families and individuals who have suffered and are still suffering.

If you or someone you love is suffering from childhood trauma please reach out to get the support you need and deserve. Contact South Pacific Private on 1800 063 332 or email info@southpacificprivate.com.au

² James, 2000. Trends and Issues Series (no. 146). Child abuse and neglect: Redefining the issues. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.)